Gaza. Economic, Social, Humanitarian Crisis. Labor Market Figures

The destruction of the Gaza Strip caused by Israel’s protracted response to the October 7 attacks, in addition to causing a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions, has completely destroyed the economy of the strip of land sandwiched between Israel, the Mediterranean Sea, and Egypt.

According to the November report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency, since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, at least 61%, or 182,000, jobs, were lost in the Gaza Strip. The impact will also be felt in the West Bank, where 208,000 jobs, or 24% of employment, will be lost. The loss of a total of 390,000 jobs in these two areas represents a loss of $16 million in daily labor income.

On the other hand, even before the conflict, the situation in the Gaza Strip was characterized by high levels of poverty and vulnerability: even then the unemployment rate was 46.4%, which is one of the worst rates in the world. Now the situation could only get tragically worse: entire neighborhoods were devastated, infrastructure was severely damaged, businesses closed, and people fled their homes in droves.

“Our initial assessment of the impact of the current tragic crisis on the Palestinian labor market yielded extremely worrying results that will only get worse if the conflict continues,” explained ILO Regional Director for the Arab States, Ruba Jaradat. “A huge humanitarian crisis in terms of loss of life and basic human needs, but also a social and economic crisis that has caused enormous damage to jobs and businesses, the consequences of which will be felt for many years to come.”

The ILO is preparing a three-phase program to respond to the crisis. The first, already underway, concerns livelihood support; the second involves data collection and impact analysis to support planning, prioritization, and fine-tuning the required measures. Then we will think about the final stage, aimed at creating jobs through “rebuilding employment infrastructure and other means, as well as social protection measures and rebuilding jobs and businesses,” the report says.

“We are working tirelessly with the government, worker and employer partners, other UN agencies, and humanitarian organizations to provide immediate assistance to affected workers and businesses. We will also support them in the long term to collect important labor market information and restore jobs and businesses, as well as social protection initiatives to the full extent of our mandate,” explained Regional Director Jaradat.